Jonny Wilkinson and David Beckham lead tributes to late rugby star Jonah Lomu

Tributes from the sporting world have been pouring in for Jonah Lomu, who sadly passed away at the age of 40 on Wednesday. The New Zealand rugby union star was diagnosed with a rare and serious kidney condition in 1996 but his death still came as a shock.

Last month Jonah was in the UK for the Rugby World Cup final, where he cheered the All Blacks to victory against the Wallabies.

His death was "totally unexpected", family spokesman John Mayhew said, as Jonah and his family had just returned to Auckland the night before, following a short holiday in Dubai.


Jonah Lomu died at the age of 40 in Auckland

Taking to Twitter to express his sadness, Jonny Wilkinson wrote: "I am so, so devastated to hear of the passing away of @JONAHTALILOMU The greatest superstar and just a fabulous human being. Deeply saddened."

David Beckham also posted a picture of Jonah on Instagram and captioned it: "So sad to hear the news about this amazing giant of a man... A sporting hero and one of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet... A credit to his country, his family and to the sport that he passionately played... Jonah you will be missed..."

The sporting legend had been in the UK for the Rugby World Cup final

All Blacks World Cup favourite Dan Carter also tweeted, "I still can't believe the sad news. Love and thoughts go out to Jonah's family," while former Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies said that just last month he had enjoyed an evening out with Jonah and his family.

"So sad, life is so cruel," wrote Jonathan. "RIP Jonah you were a true legend and a gentleman. You changed the game of rugby and will be sorely missed. My thoughts are with your family."

Jonah played in no fewer than 63 matches for the All Blacks

Originally of Tongan descent, Jonah represented New Zealand as a teenager and went on to play 63 matches for the All Blacks. He has been described as the first true global superstar of rugby union.

By the end of 1996 Jonah was diagnosed with a rare and serious kidney disorder – nephritic syndrome – which forced him to take time off the sport. He had a kidney transplant in 2004 but retired from rugby three years later.

On Monday just two days before his death, Jonah posted a series of holiday snaps from Dubai on Twitter. He wrote that he was having a grand time in "paradise" and posted: "Thank you @MadinatJumeirah for a great stay see you again very soon from the Lomu family."

Jonah is survived by his third wife Nadene and their children.

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